Things moved quickly after Matt Jones, Navy veteran and founder of CourseScout, went to his first Bunker Brews.
When he walked in, he had just an idea for a business and he half expected the people he met to shoot him down—to provide a reality check in the form of a smack in the face, as he put it. Instead, the city leaders invited him to pitch his business idea—providing video marketing solutions to golf courses— to the crowd that same night. Six weeks later, he was in the Atlanta Veterans in Residence program in a cohort that kicked off in the fall of 2019. By January 1, he had found a co-founder through Bunker Labs’ Launch Lab Online Facebook page, military spouse Nicole Kato.
Nicole joined as the company’s CTO, and she has built the company software, advertising engine, and more. Now, just a year since that first Bunker Brews, CourseScout is preparing to open their sales funnel and, as Matt described it, “start cranking revenue.”
Looking back at that rapid timeline, he said, “I didn’t think that was possible!”
CourseScout uses drones to shoot golf course footage which it then turns into video playlists—a video for each hole—designed for sports’ largest consumer base: 18 to 34-year-olds who “walk around staring at their phones constantly consuming video content.” CourseScout can narrate the video (leaning on Matt’s previous work in radio) with tips on how to navigate the course and calls to action, like booking a tee time. The videos also have advertising placements that allow CourseScout to offer its videos to golf courses for free.
A business built on advertising revenue requires a big network, and during the Veterans in Residence experience, Matt said, “It was one opportunity after another to go shake somebody’s hand.” Though he is based in Atlanta, he also drove to Bunker Labs locations throughout the Southeast—Nashville, Chattanooga, Knoxville—to pitch his company.
He compared the cohort experience to bootcamp, where “you’re shoved in a room with people from different areas.” In Veterans in Residence, he said, “there are people in that cohort where the path they walk and the path I walk, they just don’t cross very often.” People who wouldn’t ordinarily rally together suddenly did. They invested in each other, and they brought fresh eyes and fresh perspectives to each other’s businesses. A fellow cohort member became his accountability buddy, someone Matt could talk shop and spitball ideas with every day, despite being in completely different industries. They still talk weekly.
Veterans in Residence also delivered an important lesson: “It taught me to quit talking about what you’re going to be and start celebrating what you are, because that will help you sniff out the next step and attract people who will help guide you to the next step.” It was a pivot in mentality, Matt said. “When you strip down all the bullshit and say, ‘Okay, I’ve got to get for real,’ that’s when you start shedding the fat a little bit and decide where your priorities lie, and that’s the awakening to me.”
Matt and Nicole are both focused on CourseScout full-time now, and CourseScout recently signed a partnership to be the exclusive video provider for Tee to Green Golf Magazine, which covers Mississippi and Louisiana. They had planned for a spring launch of their services, “and then Covid hit and whacked me in the ankles,” Matt said. But they’ve used the time to really get streamlined and have moved past the pandemic’s blow. Luckily, Matt said, he doesn’t have to get within 10 feet of anybody when he’s out on a golf course all day.